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Islamic views of homosexuality

Same-sex intercourse is prohibited in Islam, which teaches that such intercourse is a violation of the natural boundaries set by Allah (the Arabic word for God). Note that homosexuality, as a psychological disposition, is not technically against the Sharia, which governs the physical actions, and not the inner thoughts and feelings of Muslims. It is the physical action of same-sex intercourse that is punishable under the Sharia.

The intended meaning of "same-sex intercourse" is sexual intercourse between two or more men, or sexual intercourse between two or more women. It does not mean the act of masturbation, nor does it have anything to do with nocturnal emissions, both of which are considered to invalidate wudu[?] and require the Muslim to take a full bath or shower before his or her next prayer, but are not otherwise punishable under Sharia.

The Qur'an specifically mentions that same-sex intercourse is forbidden. See Homosexuality in the Qur'an, below. There are several reasons why, even without resorting to specific verses of prohibition, same-sex intercourse might be considered wrong in the Islamic context. One such reason has to do with extramarital sex, or adultery, which is held to be punishable by stoning the adulterers to death. If two men who are not married to each other are caught in sexual intercourse, then their union is adulterous and hence forbidden and punishable. If, on the other hand, men were permitted to marry, then rules concerning being in the same room with marriageable partners would take effect, and unmarried men would not be permitted to meet without a mahram[?] (a responsible relative who would accompany them to prevent them from doing anything irresponsible), and unmarried women would not be permitted to meet without a mahram[?] either. In that case, no two unmarried people could legally be alone in a closed space, which would be a great burden on society.

While there is a consensus of opinion that same-sex intercourse is in violation of Islamic law, there are valid differences of opinion within Islamic scholarship about punishment, reformation, and what standards of proof are required before physical punishment becomes lawful.

A traditional view of Islamic scholars is that people caught in the act of same-sex intercourse should receive the death penalty. The death penalty has been held to be an appropriate punishment for same-sex intercourse by a British Muslim group Al-Muhajiroun, and by some officially Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan under the Taliban. However, most Muslim nations do not carry out the death penalty for homosexuality, and some other Muslim groups hold no opinion or more lenient opinions concerning an appropriate penalty (such as flogging, imprisonment, therapy, no action, etc.) for those caught in the act of same-sex intercourse.

Some Muslim groups hold that the death penalty is not an appropriate punishment for same-sex intercourse. The Al-Fatiha Foundation, an organization that caters to gay Muslims, states "All the legal schools regard sex between males as unlawful, but they differ over the severity of the punishment." For example, they state that the Hanafi school of jurisprudence considers same-sex intercourse to be a crime without physical punishment, and the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence requires the presence of at least four witnesses who actually see the act of penetration. Both the Hanafi and Shafi'i schools of jurisprudence are considered to be mainstream schools of jurisprudence within Sunni Islam, which is itself the dominant sect of Islam.

Despite the differing opinions, some countries have executed thousands of homosexuals under their own interpretations of Sharia. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuals have no special civil rights and may be killed for their practices, although in practise this is not usually done unless the state perceives a threat to its power [1] (http://www.sodomylaws.org/world/saudi_arabia/saudinews19.htm). It has been estimated that since the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Iranian government has executed more than 4000 persons charged with homosexual acts. In Afghanistan at least 10 homosexuals are known to have been executed for their sexual conduct by the Islamist Taliban. The vast majority of non-Muslims, led by Amnesty International, have condemned this practice, and some Muslims have joined in such condemnation. Muslims who condemn the executions might base such condemnation on their perception that it reflects poorly on Muslim society's current levels of tolerance for people who do not fit into accepted norms, while others might see it as an ineffective deterrent. While executions discourage the outward manifestations of same-sex unions, it is nearly impossible to enforce laws against private same-sex relations since males are allowed to associate freely, as are females. At the same time as they are ineffective as deterrents, executions are irreversible punishments that open Islam up to criticisms that it is a cruel and uncompromising religion, even when more lenient Islamic opinions about how to respond to homosexuality are discussed by Muslims in forums where it is safe to do so.

Homosexuality in the Qur'an

The Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of the Qur'an states: "We also sent Lut: He said to his people: Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." (Qur'an 7:80-81)

"Of all creatures in the world, will ye approach males, and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!" (Qur'an 26:165)

Also see Al-Shu'ara' (starting at 165) :

Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)! They said: "If thou desist not, O Lut! thou wilt assuredly be cast out!" He said: "I do detest your doings:" "O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!" So We delivered him and his family,- all Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.

AL-NAML (starting at 55):

Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant! But his people gave no other answer but this: They said, "Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" But We saved him and his family, except his wife; her We destined to be of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)!

See also Khalil el-Moumni, Religion and homosexuality

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